The board examination usually starts from 1 December and ends around 13 December but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the students (board examinee) were forced to fit in with the new normal in order to appear for their board examinations.
Board examinations for classes 10 and 12 for the academic year 2020 were conducted in March 2021 whereas for the academic year 2021 the board examination will be held from 14 to 28 February and the practical exam for seven Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) schools will be held on 12 February next year.
According to the notification issued by the Department of School Education (DSE), the unaffected school (classes X and XII) will have to go to school till 18 December, and from 19 December till 14 January next year, the schools will get study leave.
Whereas affected schools (classes X and XII) will not be getting study leave but then to continue with the schooling till the main examinations.
However, some affected schools are planning to give around a week as a study leave as their schools are functioning in containment modes since April this year.
A teacher from one of the affected schools said, “We will be giving three weeks’ holiday to study on their own within the campus.”
Cheku Dorji, Principal of Peljorling Higher Secondary School in Samtse said, “We are planning to give our students (classes 10 and 12) a holiday of seven to ten days since most of our teachers have to go for election duty and some are Desuup too.”
Kinley Gyaltshen, Chief of School Planning and Coordination Division (SPCD) under Department of School Education of the Ministry of Education (MoE) said, “This is the best plan Ministry of Education could have since most of the affected school has lost many instructional classes as compare to unaffected schools.”
Thinley, a parent from one of the affected schools said, “Since our children are in containment mode we can’t meet them but as a parent, I feel it was the best decision the government has made and also it’s important for our children to adapt to the situation.”
Another parent from Thimphu shares, “Even last year, the timing for board exams was postponed whereas even today as a parent I feel it is now a time for our children who will appear for board exams to act normal and to do the best.”
“If not for the pandemic, our children might be doing their board examination now but because of the pandemic it seems like our children have to adapt to the situation till it gets back to normal which we can’t say anything on it,” said Nidup whose daughter is also a board examinee.
As per the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA), the pass percentage of class ten who appeared in 2019 to that of 2020 has an increased percent by 2.94 percentage but whereas the pass percentage for class 12 who appeared in 2019 to that of 2020 has a decreased percent by 0.92 percentage.
Because of the pandemic, parents and teachers are still worried but they are confident that the students will adapt to the situation no matter how the situation will be in the future though the quality of the education gets compromised.
Jigme, Principal at Norbu Academy in Phuentsholing shares that he feel there are equal pros and cons for these students who will sit for Bhutan Higher Secondary Education Certificate (BHSEC) and further adds, “We have to align ourselves with the situation at present.”
“We were hit by the pandemic as giving quality education and quality revision has hampered but we are glad MoE has postponed the main exam as we get quality time with our students to cover all this syllabus and revisions,” said Principal Cheku.
A teacher from the south shares, “Students are frustrated as we had to rush the syllabus but some are really working hard and I feel we should adapt to such situations in the future too, especially those who are going to sit for BHSEC.”
Wangchuk Chimi, a teacher from the capital also says that the students should get adapted to the situation and he hopes the students do better. “I really hope the students will do better as the affected schools also got the time to cover up all those missed onsite classes.”
Meanwhile, the students (board examinee) from affected schools and unaffected schools are still going with their normal classes.
A student from the south shares the opinion. “We are happy as our teacher will be able to give us quality revision and cover all the important syllabus till our main examination comes.”
Another student says, “I think we should adopt the new normal situation and work even harder.”
“We are thankful to MoE for the concern especially to us as we were affected by the pandemic where lockdown made us lay backward unlike the schools at Thimphu and other Dzongkhags,” shares a student from an affected school.
Another student from Thimphu shares, “The winter is cold but as an examinee of BHSEC, I should work hard to do my best.”
On asking about the implementation of a new normal situation, Chief of SPCD, Kinley Gyaltshen said, “Preparing separate board exam for affected and unaffected school will have huge cost implication but deferring the exam date and conduct the main examination at the same time is the best decision we can make.”
With the global Covid-19 pandemic, the situation for future board examinees will never be known but then to adapt to the flow of the new normal situation.